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Process Aware Information Systems: Bridging People and Software Through Process Technology

Process-aware information systems are at the heart of an ongoing “silent revolution.”
From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, the lion’s share of attention in the area
of information systems went to data. The focus was mainly on storing and retrieving
information and, hence, data models were often the starting point for designing
information systems, whereas database management systems were considered to be
the heart of the run time infrastructure. During the 1990s, a number of parallel
trends shifted the focus to processes. As a result, an increasing number of business
processes are now conducted under the supervision of information systems driven
by explicit process models. This shift of focus has resulted in a myriad of approaches
to process engineering, modeling, and implementation, ranging from those supported
by groupware and project management products to those supported by document,
imaging, and workflow management systems, which are now finding their
way into enterprise application-integration tools. The plethora of (sometimes subtly
different) technologies in this area illustrates the relevance of the topic but also its
complexity, and despite a number of discontinued and ongoing standardization efforts,
there is still a lack of an overarching framework for designing and implementing
process-aware information systems. Instead, process-awareness in information
systems manifests itself in various forms, with similar concepts appearing under
different names, in different combinations, and with varying levels of tool support.

The goal of this book is to provide a unifying and comprehensive overview of
the technological underpinnings of the emerging field of process-aware information
systems engineering. While primarily intended as a textbook, the book is also a
manifesto for process-aware information systems, insofar as it puts forward the resemblances
(and differences) between a number of technologies that up to now
have evolved somewhat independently of one another. In this respect, it is hoped
that the book will raise awareness of the need to look at new trends in the area in
light of a broader perspective than has been employed up to now and to draw on the
large body of existing theoretical and practical knowledge. In terms of scope, it
should be mentioned that the focus of the book is on technical aspects, as opposed
to strategic and managerial aspects, which are covered in a number of other publications
(many of which are referenced throughout the book).
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